Asian Theatre Journal, vol. 26, no. 2 (2009)

Iranian surat/lo'batFrom the Editor, iii


All Three Fear Their Wives (Sanpaqi): A Post-Midnight Shadow Play
Introduction and translation by Fan Pen Chen, 197

Post-midnight plays were bawdy, skitlike plays performed late at night, after the women and children have left. Traditionally characterized by lascivious content, they did not use playscript and were frowned upon by the Confucian literati and government. Many Chinese xiqu (opera) traditions may have performed post-midnight plays throughout China, but rarely have they been transcribed or even described. All Three Fear Their Wives is a rare transcription of a play of this genre.

Fan Pen Chen is an assistant professor at SUNY-Albany. She began research on the Chinese shadow theatre in 1995 and has published two books and numerous articles on the topic. Supported by a Canadian government Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant, she traveled across China three times to do research and videotaped sixteen troupes in nine different provinces and municipalities. Fan commissioned for the transcription from memory many post-midnight shadow plays. All Three Fear Their Wives is the only popular post-midnight play that has not been reworked by professional writers of government-sponsored troupes.


Urban Style, Sexuality, Resistance, and Refinement in the Japanese Dance Sukeroku
Jay Keister, 215

The entrance dance by the character Sukeroku is a highlight of Sukeroku Yukari no Edo Zakura, a kabuki play that has been a mainstay on the Japanese stage since the early eighteenth century. Analysis of this dance that features one of Japan’s most iconic stage persona demonstrates the power of the presentational aspects of kabuki—dance, music, and costume—to symbolically express iki (“chic refinement”), the predominant aesthetic style of Edo era popular culture. As the foremost example of iki in a male character, Sukeroku displays in this dance the complexity of this aesthetic as both an expression of fashionable style on the surface and, at a more hidden level, a symbolic expression of resistance by commoners who sought to oppose the samurai ruling class.

Jay Keister (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles) is an associate professor of ethnomusicology in the College of Music at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of Shaped by Japanese Music: Kikuoka Hiroaki and Nagauta Shamisen in Tokyo (Routledge 2004) and has published articles on Japanese music in Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, and The World of Music.


Emotion, Materiality, and Subjectivity: Meng Jinghui’s Rhinoceros in Love
Yuwen Hsiung, 250

Leading director Meng Jinghui’s theatrical works move toward a more popular and urbanized theatre in contemporary China. Meng’s Rhinoceros in Love provides a poignant reflection of the capitalist cultural condition. This paper examines the significance of this work as well as Meng’s theatrical vision from the angle of subjectivity, and reads Meng’s cultivation of subjectivity not as subversive or reflective, but as individualized and privatized “psychic interiority.” The notion of popular theatre is discussed in the context of the avant-garde in China.

Yuwen Hsiung is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at Swarthmore. She received a PhD in comparative literature from Purdue University in 2007.


Kheimeh Shab Bazi: Iranian Traditional Marionette Theatre
Shiva Massoudi, 260

Kheimeh shab bazi is a traditional marionette form of Iran. The historical background is obscure, though we find references to puppetry in literature and travel reports. The practice of the art in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Iran is detailed.

Shiva Massoudi is an associate professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts and Music, the Faculty of Fine Art at University of Tehran in Iran.

Postscript to University of the Philippines Komedya Fiesta 2008: Prelude to a Discourse on National Theatre
Sir Anril Tiatco, 281

This report documents the activities of the Komedya Fiesta 2008 and discusses how scholars and others have cited komedya as a national theatre for the Philippines, but argues why this form cannot serve as a national theatre because of its Roman Catholic religious orientation.

Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco is an assistant professor of Theater Arts at the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts, College of Arts and Letters at the University of the Philippines. He is also the director of UP System Information Office. His work has been published in Asian Theatre Journal, and Philippine Humanities Review.

Baresahariya Bhaona: Community Drama Festival of Assam: A Living Tradition
Madan M. Sarma and Parasmoni Dutta, 303

Baresahariya bhaona, a unique festival of Vaishnava theatrical performance, has been celebrated for more than two hundred years in the northeast Indian state of Assam. During the festival twenty-some plays are staged simultaneously under a uniquely designed roof in an acting area shaped like a lotus in bloom. The festival offers a veritable feast of spectacle, stylized acting, classical dance, and music, all imbued with a sense of spirituality. The performance is marked by a continuous shifting between the classical and the folk, the mundane and the spiritual, providing thousands of spectators a rare aesthetic experience. The festival offers an example of a rural community’s adherence to simple faith and a desire to retain the best of their cultural-religious tradition, and their readiness to accommodate the inevitable changes in the difficult days of globalization and cultural homogenization.

Madan M. Sarma is currently a professor in and head of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Tezpur University, Tezpur, Assam, India. His areas of interest are critical theory, applied linguistics, translation studies, and folk literature. He is an eminent creative writer and critic in Assamese and also a translator.

Parasmoni Dutta is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at Tezpur University, Tezpur, Assam, India. His areas of interest are intangible heritage and new museology.


Modern Chinese Drama in English: A Selective Bibliography
Siyuan Liu and Kevin J. Wetmore Jr., 320


Yangmen Nüjiang (Heroines of the Yang Family), Baishe Zhuan (Legend of the White Snake), Bawang Bieji (Farewell My Concubine), Guifei Zuijiu (The Drunken Beauty). By Mei Lanfang Troupe. Artistic director Mei Baojiu.
Reviewed by Suk-Young Kim, 352

Ningyo Shimai (The Doll Sisters). Directed, created, and designed by Setsu Asakura; created by Taeko Tomioka, reviewed by Lisa Reinke, 359


Ying Ruocheng and Claire Conceison, Voices Carry: Behind Bars and Backstage during China’s Revolution and Reform, reviewed by Colin Mackerras, 363

Joshua Goldstein, Drama Kings: Players and Publics in the Re-creation of Peking Opera, 1870–1937, reviewed by Wei Bingbing, 365

Ashley Thorpe, The Role of the Chou (“Clown”) in Traditional Chinese Drama: Comedy, Criticism, and Cosmology on the Chinese Stage, reviewed by Megan Evans, 368

Min Tian, The Poetics of Difference and Displacement: Twentieth-Century Chinese-Western Intercultural Theatre, reviewed by Ronald Gilliam, 371

Sreenath Nair, Restoration of Breath: Consciousness and Performance, reviewed by Kathy Foley, 374

Janet O’Shea, At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage, reviewed by Avanthi Meduri, 378

Walter Angst, Wayang Indonesia. Die Phantastische Welt des Indonesischen Figurentheaters/The Fantastic World of Indonesian Puppet Theater, reviewed by Kathy Foley, 382